The Pandemic's Push on Snack Demand
The "stay at home" orders this year gave a push to Americans' love of indulgent snacks as sales of these products have spiked in recent months. Historically, as is the pattern in times of crisis, consumers turn to sweet and salty indulgences for both comfort and an escape from stress. Economic uncertainty is also helping to drive this trend. Snack food consumption has increased by 8% overall during the pandemic. Additionally, during the 17-week period that ended in June, 2020, consumers bought $3.7 Billion worth of chocolate, a 6.3% increase from the comparable period a year prior. Sales for Frito-Lay increased by 7% during the same period, while Quaker Foods' revenue increased by 23%. When people are searching for some level of normalcy, they tend to look for familiar brands - those that may remind them of childhood or happier times, and provide a "comfort" factor. With the start of 2021, much uncertainty remains around the pandemic and the return to some level of normalcy as the timing of vaccine distribution will dictate a large piece of this. Some companies have already announced a continuation of work-from-home structures through much of 2021, although there seems to be a growing movement to return employees to a centralized workplace as soon as it is safe to do so as more and more studies about the impacts of telework are published. Sales projections for the snack category into 2021 remain strong as consumers will continue to look to familiar brands and products in both retail and vending environments. According to the CDC, packaged snack goods are also among the lowest risk for COVID transmission to consumers should feel this level of comfort as they choose their selections.